Monday, 19 March 2007

The train ride from hell!!!!

"You want to fight? I dare any of you to step up and fight me right now!" said the skinny British girl in the aisle of the overnight train to Birmingham New Street.

Let's go back though in true Quentin Tarantino style, back to the beginning. The weather in Ireland this weekend turned rough thus causing all ferries to be canceled. We were moved to the 8:55 ferry into Holyhead. Now because of this it rendered our train connection at the port useless since there was no way to make it there short of swimming from Ireland to Wales. That was out of the question as we didn't have our suits. So we tried to change our train, but we were just told to show up and take our chances finding a seat. The ferry took 3 hours and we had to wait another hour for the train. It was due to leave around 1 am. We had a plan. Josh would find a seat while I would find a conductor to make sure my ticket would be valid.

When I couldn't find anyone to talk to, I hunted down Josh who was lucky to grab two unreserved seats. I was looking forward to settling in and getting some shut eye. It was quickly apparent that peaceful rest was out of the question. I watched in horrified awe as the family in front us, who must have consisted of aunts, uncles, grandma and multiple children, as they pulled out a brand new bottle of vodka and Budweisers. They were singing Irish songs loudly and started to light up cigarettes right on the train! The kids were running rampant through the train and the kid next to Josh was trying to light the seat on fire.

Through some malfunction in the system any seat reservations were canceled, leaving people who had previously arranged their tickets without a seat. Unfortunately, a few girls were assigned to the seats occupied by this family. They came up explaining that their tickets said that they were assigned those seats and were essentially told by this family to f#$* off. The first two girls that were in those seats were smart (or scared depending on how you look at it) and found other seats. One girl, however, decided to stand her ground while her friend went to get someone to help. She stood right in the middle of the family while they drank and smoked around her. The man kept touching her ass while the woman insulted her and told her to move her ass out of her face. The girl stood there and waited patiently. The children danced around her insulting her and one kid (who Josh has nicknamed "devil spawn") took his shoes off and put them into her face. The girl told him not to do that, much like a parent would and yet his father sat there watching and egging him on. Meanwhile, you must not forget that they were still drinking and singing through this all. The family kept at her and eventually she turned around and shouted back at them.

"Any of you want to fight me? Come on stand up and fight me."

No one stood. No one even responded.

"That's what I thought" she retorted.

Eventually the conductor came back and had to explain to the girl that unfortunately she could not ask them to move and she found the girls seats elsewhere. The woman came back later and handled that family with such amazing calm and ease. I was surprised at the way she handled the situation. She told them kindly that the next stop had a ten minute break and they would be able to go out and smoke at that point and asked them to please wait until then to smoke. Not that that stopped them.

They continued on in the same manner for a while. The kids were making us nervous because I kept envisioning them climbing around under the seats and stealing from our bags so instead of sleeping, I was on high alert. At some point the woman who had been singing the loudest sort of passed out drunk so a teenage girl of the family pulled her out of her seat and dragged her down the aisle to another seat farther down. When the drunk woman came to a bit she starting cursing at the man in front of me which in turn he stood up and started cursing back at her. Only he started throwing water at her and shouting that he was going throw his now empty vodka bottle out the window and he hoped the train crashed with all of them in it. The family that was on the other side of his anger got up and went to another car, sending the young boy back and forth to collect all of their things.

The man started screaming at the boy, "Jimmy, you leave those clothes here. Jimmy bring that stuff back here now!"

The kid ignored him and ran with the bags. The man plopped down in his seat so clearly drunk and angry. The "devil spawn" sat down with him and said, "Dad, why do you hate Jimmy so much?"

It was so sad! I felt like this kid was asking the wrong questions, he was so young that he didn't understand that his dad is really just a drunk imbecile and that it isn't that he hates Jimmy. So the dad asks the kid to go into the other car and see what's going on. So the kid runs off, meanwhile the dad is sitting there stewing in anger, I could feel him getting restless and he stood up to follow his son. All I kept thinking is, "Oh man this can't be good." Sure enough, at the next stop the train stopped for a few minutes. I could see people getting off the train to smoke and get snacks. It started to become too long though and we were all wondering what was taking so long. The little kid came running back to his mom who was passed out next to Josh. He started shaking her saying, "Dad's getting put off the train, mom, he needs his jacket." I thought it was so funny how this was the concern. Dad needs his jacket to get thrown off. The mom grumbled for a minute and then jumped up when she realized what the kid was actually saying. They went running off in the other direction to find the dad.

A few minutes later the kid was running back to the car to get their things and to rouse his two brothers who were sleeping on the floor in the aisle. He ran off again, leaving the two brothers to fall back asleep. The next time he returned it was with the lady conductor and two very frazzled looking men with walkie-talkies. I looked out the window and saw a few police men running around as well. The American students behind me were getting frustrated and kept asking the woman if we were getting under way soon as we all needed to catch the connection to London. She told them that she apologized, but that that man was getting arrested and that there was nothing she could do at the moment. She was trying to help the kid figure out all the stuff that belonged to the family. When they started to walk away I looked over and realized that they were leaving one of the brothers. I waved down the lady and said that I thought he belonged to them as well as the kid has tried to wake to tell him that dad was getting arrested.

Eventually they were all off the train and we were underway again. A huge cheer erupted from our car! Luckily we made the connection without a problem, and two more trains and an Underground ride later we were home. The moral of the story according to Josh, The US is not the only place with white trash families.